A crime lost to time. A secret buried deep. One book unlocks an unimaginable truth.
Salem, Massachusetts, 1681. Fear and suspicion lead a small town to unspeakable acts. Marblehead, Massachusetts, 1991. A young woman is about to discover that she is tied to Salem in ways she never imagined.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane follows the main protagonist, Connie, who is a graduate student at Harvard pursuing her Ph.D. When she makes a small discovery in her grandmother’s old house, she begins to research a name and finds that there’s a hidden secret of the Salem Witch Trials that has been buried throughout time. Her journey starts out harmless and tame as she pursues the research as a possible dissertation topic, but she quickly realizes that there’s much more at stake as she works to unravel a dangerous mystery.
This was certainly an epic debut novel. Katherine Howe brings the Salem witch trials to life once again.
Whether you have a vivid imagination or not, you’ll be thrust into the book thanks to its beautifully detailed descriptions. The wording is so vivid that the book depicts imagery that will suck you in from the start. And you’re not standing next characters, you’re seeing through their eyes. The third person omniscient point of view will take you into the minds of the characters, especially the main protagonist, Connie.
As this is a historical fiction novel, I expected accurate historical facts mixed with a bit of imagination, and this book does that and more. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane takes you back to the Salem witch trials and makes you feel like you’ve traveled back in time. Not only are the historical facts about the women who died present in the novel, but Katherine Howe also does an amazing job portraying the language at the time.
Katherine Howe employs various interludes throughout the book that skips back in time from the present day to the 1600’s. These interludes are placed very strategically though. As we follow Connie in the present time, we see her research Deliverance Dane and uncover hidden truths about her. But as these truths happened three hundred years before, we’re not able to see how it really unfolds in clarity until the interludes right after.
The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane was chock full of suspense and mystery, but it didn’t really kick off fully until around a hundred pages in, which is why I decided to give this book four stars. I actually came really close to adding the book to my Did Not Finish list because it took too long to get the plotline rolling. But I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. After the plotline picked up, it really was nonstop mystery. All the way up until the very end when the plot twist hit. I kind of called what would happen, but I didn’t foresee it being as crazy and serious as it was.
In the end, I did really enjoy The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, I just wish it had picked up sooner. So I would recommend this to lovers of historical fiction and anything about magic and witches, just make sure you stick with it because I promise, you won’t regret it at the end.
If you liked The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, I would recommend you check out The Secret of the Codex by Melissa Frey. Read my review of the supernatural thriller and my interview with it's author here.